Monday, 31 January 2011

Complicated projects

I swear you'd never know that the Craft Council of America did a difficulty/skills rating for projects with some pattern books.

"1: Beginner Projects for first-time knitters using basic knit and purl stitches.
Minimal shaping.

2; Easy Projects using basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple
color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.

3. Intermediate Projects with a variety of stitches, such as basic cables and lace,
simple intarsia, double-pointed needles and knitting in the round needle
techniques, mid-level shaping and finishing.

4. Experienced Projects using advanced techniques and stitches, such as short rows,
fair isle, more intricate intarsia, cables, lace patterns, and numerous
color changes."

Now what surprises me is that socks are actually experienced. (I don't know if you read my minor rant about the rug pattern in the Jane Austen Sewing Box, but that's a beginner pattern) Short row shaping for the heel, throws it into experienced. However a sock can be so simple. No really. The heel is really the only complex bit and even then with a well written sock pattern if you follow the pattern it will happen. There are socks that require more brain power.

Now while I don't agree with them on a lot of this I do think that there are projects that fall into complicated that aren't. There are very few patterns that can't be made easier by a well written pattern.

The way I rate projects would be

1. Beginner, the kind of project that can be picked up and a subtitled movie watched by a relatively experienced knitter. Repetitive, simple, very little surprises. If an error is made a lifeline would really make no difference, probably a crochet hook could solve most problems (except knitting too much).

2. Easy. Something that could be knit on a commute without dropping too many things underfoot. May require you to put it aside if you're doing something that requires attention, but nothing that makes you scratch your head too much. A movie in your language could be watched but not with the lights out. A lifeline could possibly be useful for a less experienced knitter but a more experienced knitter would probably be able to rip and pick up without sweating too hard. I would actually put a plain pair of socks with a rib and plain leg here.

3. Intermediate. Some fussing will be necessary and there will be swearing if an error happens, more if a lifeline has been forgotten. You might be able to bring it on a commute but you would probably need a book or alternate distraction for moments that require some head scratching. You could probably watch a well-loved series, but may have to pause either the knitting or the TV occasionally. Socks would have complex patterning but toe and heel pretty straightforward

4. Experienced. Requires concentration. Swearing may require children to be kept well away. May require test yarn and needles to see where it's going wrong. Knitters may retreat to an alternate location to concentrate. A lifeline is essential if you don't want to rip the whole way to the beginning. Extra yarn should be factored in for the yarn ruined by repeated ripping. The item produced is somewhat of an art piece and other knitters will ooh and ah over the piece. Socks wouldn't be made with regular shaping or methods.


So anyone got any ideas? Comments?

Traditional Aran Knitting

Traditional Aran Knitting

Book Depository; Ravelry Link


Types of patterns: mostly garments, some cushions as well

Number of Patterns: 23

Split of patterns: Jumper (6); Cardigan/Jacket (3); Waistcoat (2); Child's Coat (1); Hat (2); Mittens (1); Coat (1); Tabard (1); scarf (1); Cushion (3)

Size Range: 28-42"

Colour/Black & White: black & White

Schematics: no

Target Audience: intermediate to experienced

How to knit guide: No

Experimental/Classical/Modern: fairly classical

Comments:
The foreword is written by Heinz Edgar Kiewe. His theories about the Aran Islanders is largely discredited. He also contradicts himself, talking first about the islanders meeting "strangers on the ocean and exchanged their catches of fish for spices, as I disovered, as far away as Maroc" and then he talks about the "seclusion of Ireland and Aran". Kiewe's history of Aran Knitting is held by many historians of the craft as being as trustworthy and founded in truth as Baignet and Leigh about the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. His claim that Daniel in the Book of Kells wore Aran-patterned knitted Stockings, breeches and sweater is intersting but the figure is quite small, and we know very little about the period garments and their construction, a raised pattern can be created by padding or by embedding cords within a fabric. Having done Calligraphy myself the urge to decorate largely blank items with some sort of patterning is quite strong.

Rant over, let's return to the book. The author talks about the lack of history and then about the meaning of some of the stitches. Like everything else this is quite subjective but with the wealth of carving on the island it would be difficult not to be inspired and people are prone towards creating stories about shapes and designs, by investing them with a story it makes the sequence more memorable and rooted in a person's consciousness. In all likeliness sequences were passed from woman to woman; and probably as much of the knitting was piecework the ability to clearly identify a piece as your own was of vital importance to these women. Subtle variations would have identified different women in a family.

Shelagh then explains the essentails of Aran knitting and then talks about designing your own (she uses a saddle shoulder for some of the illustrations) She does a run-through of some basic stitch patterns, starting from fairly simple and moving onto more and more complicated and involved patterns (this is where some updating and charts could be incredibly useful).

Patterns start with Pattern 1 the Traditional Fishing Shirt, an ornamental rib and saddle shoulders. (where the top of the sleeve continues to form part of the shoulders)

Pattern 2 is also a traditional Fishing shirt with different cables, again with an ornamental rib and saddle shoulders.

Patter 3 is different, pattern taken from one of the first Aran Jumpers to be recorded, again with saddle shoulders

Pattern 4: Family Sweater Round Neck; (5)Family Sweater, V-Neck and (6) Family Sweater Polo Neck, drop shouldered jumper made for men, women and children.

Pattern 7: v-neck raglan shaped cardigan.

Pattern 8: Cable-Patterned waistcoats - child and adult sized waistcoat

Pattern 9: Easy Knit Jackets - multi sized jacket with a single panel ("making it ideal for a beginner to knit") - this is the cover jacket, it's a Starsky and Hutch style cardigan, with a drop shoulder.

Pattern 10: Man's zip-fronted jacket - this is relatively plain, all over trinity stitch with a wide rib along the front that has cables, this is fairly modern, if I was to knit it I would consider doing something with the collar, it doesn't really add enough to the garment.

Child's Aran Patterned Coat also has a matching patterned hat and mitts (patterns 11, 12, 13)

Pattern 14: Child's Sweater with Crossover Shawl Collar, raglan shoulder

Pattern 15: Lady's Full Length Aran Patterned Coat - Bobble fan, trinity and moss stitch coat with drop shoulders, slits to the bottom and a high yoke, this isn't a bad design and could possibly be great with some work.

Pattern 16: Lady's Evening Waistcoat, knit in finer yarn (twilley Goldfingering to be exact) this would probably be quite good in a unsubtle yarn as the patterning is quite low, honeycomb and trinity stitch mostly.

Pattern 17: Lady's Tabard. This is a long-line sleeveless tank top with bobbles running down it with some other patterns. It would probably be vastly improved by losing the bobbles.

Pattern 18: Lady's Hat - a pretty basic pull-on hat with a tassel.

Pattern 19: Lady's Mitts - mitts to match the hat

Pattern 20: Lady's Scarf to match hat and mitts

Pattern 21: Square Cushion Cover - 8 squares joined together to make a cushion, designer suggests you could use a number of cable patterns, a good way to see how the aran patterns can pull in the yarn.

Pattern 22: Oblong Cushion Cover - this is 92 stitches wide which could be close to an actual garment, this would be a useful swatch as many aran patterns are best measured across the whole pattern.

Pattern 23: Bolster-shaped cushion cover, a woven basket stitch makes this a sumptious cover and the basket stitch gives it a great texture.

Yes some of the patterns are dated and it completely lacks charts and schematics but overall it's not a bad book if you want to make an Aran Jumper as is found in many a tourist shop. The patterns may not be entirely to modern sensibilities but overall it's not bad, you just need to take the history with a pinch of salt.

Buy/Borrow: for what it is it isn't a bad book, the patterns are pretty standard with some tweaks in some places to make it a little more than just a guide to the standard arans as are found in tourist shops. I own a copy and doing this review I found myself thinking about knitting at least one or two of the waistcoats, with possible revisions. You just need to remember that the history is in the realm of myth rather than fact.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has got a copy in. Dover sell it in reprint.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Fashion Crochet by Caroline Horne



Book Depository Link there's no Ravelry Link for this one.

other info: Mills & Boon, 1969, 263707369

Types of patterns: Mostly clothing

Number of Patterns: Bag (1); Hat(2); Stockings (1); Suit (2); Coat (2) Dress (2); shawl(1)

Split of patterns: women

Size Range: 34-40"; most patterns only offer 1-2 sizes

Colour/Black & White: Black and white

Schematics: No

Target Audience: Beginner Crocheters

How to Crochet guide: Yes

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Fairly Clasiscal

Comments:

The book opens with a guide on how to crochet, illustrated, then a how to read a pattern section and then on to the patterns

First is how to make a handbag, lined.

A crochet beret

A crochet hat

Stockings! Using Nylon thread

A Tailored suit with raglan sleeves - this is very Chanel.

3/4 length coat with raglan sleeves

Car Coat

Two-coloured Dress

Classic Teenagers dress

Cape Suit

Evening Shawl

The book finishes with suggested colour uses in the patterns; lengthening advice, and lining advice along with an announcement that from July 1st 1969 mm were coming in as standard and while the patterns are offered with old imperial crochet hook sizing, there is a conversion chart to mm sizing.

This is not a modern book and the sizing is very limited but it is an interesting book, not only is it part of the history of crochet but it's also published by Mills & Boon when they weren't just a romance novel production house. You would have to do a certain amount of research on the yarns cited to discover what the originals would have looked like and there's a lack of colour photographs (excepting the front cover); all the patterns are presented in fashion style sketches featuring a Twiggy-esque sketch wearing the garment.


Buy/Borrow: It belongs more as an historical book than a modern pattern book, though some of the principles would remain the same. However with the limited sizing and lack of schematics it's not too helpful, a book originally intended for a beginner or intermedite crocheter, it's now really a book for an intermediate or advanced worker.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has a copy.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Knitting Experience Book 3: Color the power and the glory




Book Depository link; Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: mostly clothing

Number of Patterns:44: Tea Cosy (1); Baby Jacket (1); Wrap (2); Jacket/cardigan (8); Jumper (12); Cuff (1); coat (1); scarf (2); Afghan (2); Tie (1); Top (3); waistcoat (2); Bag (1); Runner(1); Placemats(1); Skirt (3); Poncho (2)

Split of patterns: Men/women/children; mostly women some men and children and unisex

Size Range: Child 2-14 (21"-31.5"); Women (28-54"); Men (34-52") not all patterns in all sizes

Colour/Black & White: both

Schematics: yes, for pretty much everything

Target Audience: All levels really, most are pretty simple, probably mostly around the intermediate rate.

How to knit guide: there is a small reminder of some techniques at the back, but this is a continuation of the Knit & Purl books from the same series so some basic skills required.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: mostly classical with some more experimental patterns in there, some are quite blockly and oversized

Comments: As I said about Styles the patterns may not be for everyone, however the inspiration I have got from flicking through this book more than makes up for the boxy shapes and general shapelessness of the garments. However, there are some pieces that make me think about knitting them albeit with some modifications. The standout piece for me is the Panel-Party Tunic/Pullover/Dress, I want to make one nowish. This could be quite good for that slightly off yarn or those oddments that are close but not good enough of a match for a full garment. The information of how to combine yarns to make a particular weight is useful.
(2 superfine = 1 light
3 superfine = 1 medium
1 superfine + 1 light = 1 medium
2 fine = 1 medium
3 fine = 1 bulky
2 superfine + 1 light = 1 bulky
2 light = bulky
1 medium +1 fine = bulky)


The first chapter is about letting the yarn do the work. The Yarn-party poncho is basically 8 scarves sewn/crocheted together and made into a poncho

Summer breeze is a shapeless top buttoned to the side.

Faith Jacket is 15 strips sewn and then a shapeless jacket created

Blanket Jacket is a big bulky jacket that resembles many, it's not a bad style.

Jeremy's Jacket is a jumper soemwhat like the blanket jacket but more styled for men.

Choker Cuff started off as a minimal scarf that the model wrapped around her wrist and they liked it

Nancy's Skirt is a wool a-line shortish skirt with a lace patterning

Second Chapter is Stripes Simple and Not

First pattern is Skinny Stripes: a funnel or v-neck jumper, not for me with horizontal stripes.

Broad Stripes is a jumper with two different necks and a top with a broad stripe in the middle and other sized stripes along the body

Wobbly Stripes is a jumper with stripes made wavy by a lace pattern

Graduated stripes is a man and child jumper with graduated stripes

Collar-closing cardigan, using a variety of yarns for the body and collar, the collar is quite wide

The third chapter is Stripes that aren't.

Cynthia's Scarf/Afghan is a log-cabin pattern that can be made into a scarf or worked into an afghan, squares are worked and sewn together

Nod to Mod Pullover is a modular jumper that could be a great way to use up a variety of colours.

Big Bang Wrap is a a stripy wrap knit in a variety of colours, houndstooth pattern with a bit of a ruffle

Linen Stitch wrap is a 4 contrast colour wrap

Linen-stitch runner and placemats are what they say they are

Baby Rainbow Jacket uses the contrast yarn well and plays with the reverse side of the fabric because it looked interesting.

Slip-into-color pullover. Tweed stitch using a variaget yarn to create interest. Could also be a good use of leftovers.

Faux check Pullover - with a slip stitch and some stitching into a lower row it makes a houndstooth pattern.

Little Squares is an oversized jacket worked in the reverse of the faux check pullover, for a different look, the sample is knit in a heavy and light yarn for a different look.

Wrong-side sweater is again using the back of the faux check pullover and with a long tail on the back

Eds Tie uses three colours and a fairly simple stitch to create a fairly solid tie.


The 2-colour tradition is the next chapter, starting with the KISS purse that looks as good inside-out as outside in, it's fulled so useful for learning

North-Inspired cardigan is inspired by Icelandic patterns, the use of colour is interesting. Designed for infants or women, infant copies are always good for trying out techniques.

In Praise of Doodling is a zipped waistcoat for men and a toggled cardigan for women. The cardigan has saddle shoulders to add interest and the cuffs are done in the same colourway as the body, while the arms are done in a contrast colour

The Seventies is a vintage style poncho sized for a child or adult.

Not-Mrs-D's-Suit is a two parter, a skirt bordered with a two-colour snowflake design, the second part is a funnel neck pullover, done in a single colour yarn.

Panels, pictures and plaids is the last chapter.
Boyfriend Sweater is a large-scale jumper with vertical stripes, with dental moulding style detail

Princess Pullover is a jumper that can have a lot or a little colourwork, there's princess seams, decorated with button details.

Colour Party Parka is an oversized parka with many, many colours.

Annalee's Tea Cozy is a argyle fulled tea cozy.

Shared Border Cardigan is a riff off the Boyfriend Sweater with an asymmetrical hem.

Panel Party skirt is done in pieces that are sewn together, a short skirt with lace and ribbing.

Panel Party tunic/pullover/dress using the same principle as the skirt this is an interesting piece, funnel necked, this would be a great piece for using almost identical yarns. The designer used a variagated yarn for the lace part and plain yarns for the ribbed sections, the sleeves are ribbed and plain. You could probably use more colour, or odd balls that are similar colours that co-ordinate with the plain yarn. Also odd yarn lots would be broken up by the co-ordinating yarn and covered up.

Knitting Bag Jacket uses the pattern from a knitting bag, a round-necked cardigan this highlights multiple odments of yarn

Fishes is an oversized top or jumper, with simple blocky fish shapes decorated with either buttons or duplicate stitch.

Simple Plaid Scarf/Afghan using slip stitch, stripes and intarsia to create the plaid effect

Simple Plaid Top, it's slightly asymmetrical, it's a sleeveless top in a similar stitch to the scarf/afthan

Simple Plaid Vest - designed for men

Several of the pieces are just not me, but it's more the information and the ideas that sparkled through my head as I flicked through this book that make me want to order a copy for me! The portions about colour theory and how to knit with colour are well done and extensive. They're also attached to the chapters that deal with the concepts, so minimising the flicking through the book!

Buy/Borrow: well I intend to shell out for a copy. It's a good accompaniment to the rest of the series and if you're looking for ideas this one does supply, and also talks about colour theory, with a lot of ideas and examples. Some of the patterns

Where found: Cork County Library supplied this via Borrowbooks.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Jane Austen's Sewing Box



Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: Domestic patterns mostly

Number of Patterns: 18

Split of patterns: mostly sewn

Colour/Black & White: COlour

Schematics: yes

Target Audience: multi-crafting Jane Austen fans

How to knit guide: no

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Classical

Comments: Despite the picture of a woman knitting a pair of socks on the front there are only two knitting patterns in this book. The book opens with an introduction to craft in Jane Austen's books and then to things like materials and tools. Each project has a list of novels it appears in and some commentary about the uses at the period.

Letter Case: Sewn - Intermediate, a lined lettercase

Linen: sewn, intermediate, lace trimmed pillowcases, you could make this an easy project by decorating existing pillowcases

Cravat: Sewn fairly simple, also provides period images of tied cravats but no real details

Workbag: Sewing and embroidery: Intermediate, an embroidered project bag

Paper Flowers: Beginner made from rice, silk or firm tissue paper

Purses: Knitting, Sewing & Netting : intermediate/Advanced. Our first knitting project, a Misers Purse a knit flat pattern sewn with minor increasing. Rings keep the coins in the purse, the ends are decorated with Beads and tassels. The Netted Coin Purse is small enough to learn how to do netting, lined with a contrast fabric, with a clasp.

Huswife: Sewing rated as beginner, this is a small fabric case with pockets to hold needlework and sewing tools. Scissors, needles, tape measure, thread, pins and pin cushion are contained in this item. It has contrast fabric on the outside

Carpetwork: Needlework and sewing rated as intermediate, canvaswork, not charted, I have needlework experience and would find this a frustrating design.

Muff and tippet: Sewing, intermediate, using fake fur and contrasting cotton fabric.

Pin cushion and thread case: Sewing, rated beginner

Transparency: Painting rated intermediate/advanced. Using glass paint and a rectangle of glass they're painted. The hardest bit is the outliner from personal experience.

Bonnet: sewing intermediate level, gathered bonnet, this uses a straw bonnet to get the bowl

Reticule: Sewing, knotting and embroidery rated as intermediate/advanced. "using a knotting shuttle make a series of evenly spaced knots in the thread" are part of the instructions

Knitted Rug: Knitting, she says advanced, I say beginner. if you can cast on, knit, purl, can follow basic instructions, and can cast off, you're able to make this rug. There was mirth at the Fiber Fun Friday about this. The worst part is the poorly done chart. (In fact according to the Yarn Standards Council it ranks as Beginner and maybe at a push Easy)

Muslin Cap: Sewing beginner rated, a lacetrimmed muslin cap.

This didn't impress me, I was underwhelmed by the patterns and thought that there was a lot of missed opportunities and I wouldn't trust the ratings for the patterns. For a knitter the patterns are very basic and pretty mundane. If I was interested in Regency period costuming or dressing I would be interested in this. It's well illustrated with a lot of period details but I wasn't impressed overall.

Buy/Borrow: Borrow, you might be more impressed than me but it didn't fill me with an urge to break out needles of any sort.

Where found: Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Libraries via Borrowbooks

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Styles - Sally Melville



Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: Garments, mostly

Number of Patterns: 27

Split of patterns: Jacket/Cardigan (6); Dog Coat (1); Vest (7); Children's Cardigan (2); Child's Jumper (1); Jumper (6); purse (1); coat (2); dress (1)

Size Range: 40-54 inches for adults

Colour/Black & White: Colour

Schematics: yes

Target Audience: impulse stashers. More intermediate or advanced knitters.

How to knit guide: Not the basics but some more specialist techniques are put forward

Experimental/Classical/Modern:

Comments: This book has dated a bit but some of the information is invaluable. She explores colour theory quite well in the beginning of the book and also shows where the colours come on a colour-wheel

The first chapter uses mostly Garter Stitch

Jessica's Jacket - blocky children's drop-shouldered jacket with a rainbow of stripes. Knit in Chunky weight yarns

Homer's Vest is a pretty simple Dog jumper with a very dark or black yarn twinned with a rainbow yarn in aran weight yarn.

Uncle Jeremey's Vest is a blocky waistcoat designed for men, in dk weight yarn. Subtle squares decorate this blocky garment.

Gander Blips Vest - an interesting surface use of a contrast yarn. Would be good for small amounts of an expensive or interesting contrast yarn, while the main colour is worsted weight the contrast can be in dk to chunky. A blocky waistcoat

Gander Blips Jacket uses the same technique for a cropped blocky jacket. This time the main colour is in an Aran Weight yarn and the contrasts in worsted to chunky weights.

Inspired-by-the-Log-Cabin Jacket. Knit in different directions this uses a worsted weight main colour (the original in a dark gray) while DK to aran Light to medium intensity colours. this is knit ina modular fashion, round necked jacket

The second chapter is Simple Fairisle

Caddy's Cardigan is done in both childrens (dk weight yarn) and adult (worsted with dk to aran weight contrasts). The children's is in brighter colours while the adult is more muted. Blocky garments.

The third chapter is Not-Your-Usual Intarsia

Standing-in-a-pile-of-leaves Pullover is a childrens garment that looks like a pile of leaves with leaves cascading down, the colours are autumnal, the background dark. The main colour is DK, the contrast colours are sport to worsted weights. There's also an Adult version, where the main colour is Aran weight and the Contrast colours DK to aran weights.

Standing-in-a-pile-of-leaves vest is a pointed front waistcoat, knit with the main colour in Aran weight and the contrast DK to Aran Weight.

Laurel's Jacket is a patchwork of squares in different colours. The sleeves are knit in one colour, with saddle shoulders, pointed front, sleeves can be knit plain or with a lace pattern. The sleeves are chunky weight, the body chunky to aran, she suggests textured yarns. As the sleeve colours can be used in the body I would be inclined to knit the sleeves first and then use as much of the remaining yarn in the body.

The fourth Chapter is Tweed Stitch Squares

Topher's Pullover is offered in a DK (with dk to aran contrasts) or Worsted weight (with DK to Aran contrasts too); square blocky jumper with squares that can be subtle or highly contrasting. Done in Childrens and adult versions

The Whistler Vest is a similar garment to the Topher Pullover, again subtle colour contrasts. Main colour DK, contrasts DK to Aran weight

Kenneth's Classic Vest is a pointed front waistcoat, again with squares, main colour worsted weight, contrasts DK to aran weight.

Ski Suit Cardigan has ribbed plain sleeves, it's a cropped cardigan, main colour worsted, contrasts DK to Aran weight yarns.


Tweed Stitch with Cables is the fifth chapter

Randy's Pullover was knit in quite bright colours and then overdyed and is quite subtle, again a blocky garment, it's knit in DK with DK to worsted contrasts.

Dress-Up Vest is a long-line waistcoat knit in dk with dk to aran contrasts, knit in subtle colours with either a round or v-neck

Annalee's Jacket is designed to be knit in a short range of colours, main colour DK, contrast DK to Aran weights. She suggests looking at stash and using a range of one colour. One of the sample garments is knit in very close shades and looks interesting.

The last chapter is Knitting as Warp, where you knit a garment loosely and then weave in contrast yarns

She starts this chapter with a bag that's basically a how-to for this technique. If this technique appeals you can then move on to the other patterns in the chapter

Shannon's Pullover has squares of contrast yarn in DK to Aran, main colour in Aran.

Tricia's Coat has diagonal stripes, the main colour is chunky, with diagonal colour and contrast colour in Chunky or doubled dk/worsted

Shadow Box Coat is a boxy coat, knit in chunky with Contrast as chunky or doubled dk/worsted.

Riley's "Jeans" pullover is made for children, main colour DK, contrasts in sport, dk or worsted.

Kilim Coat Dress is a dress inspired by kilim fabric, main colour DK, contrasts in DK to worsted. A short length button fronted dress with long sleeves.

Kilim vest is similar to the Kilim Dress but v-necked and long-line. Knit in Aran weight with DK to Aran contrast yarns.

The book also has a chapter on basic pattern drafting.

The garments aren't very fitted and in fact are very blocky but this book caught my eye more for inspiration than for the garments themselves. To fit todays sensibilities you would need to do some work on some of the pieces but it does show some great ways to use up impulse buys.


Buy/Borrow: I'd borrow it to see what you think, I borrowed it and it went straight on my wishlist. The patterns do show age but I found them inspirational. I have a lot of small quantities of yarn in my stash and this could be great to help me reduce the amount of excess yarn with a small outlay for some base yarns.

Where found: I got it via Borrowbooks from Cork County Libraries.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

New Year, New Ambitions

I've been a bit behind in updating this blog recently, *sigh*, the damned PC apparently picked up some sort of infection and decided that a go-slow was the only way, then when I changed to Ubuntu there was issues with Firefox, now I'm working with Chromium and things appear to be fine. Some minor tweaks needed and a minor learning curve and hopefully things will continue well.

I have some ambitions for 2011.

1. To publish a pattern, one of my patterns is in the hands of a test knitter.

2. To knit several patterns from my queue, at least 11

3. To knit 11 pairs of socks

4. to knit at least 2 adult garments.

5. to knit more from my stash than I buy (this should be easy, the government has gutted my wages)

6. To finish at least half the works in progress currently on my projects page, either finish or rip.

7. to knit at least one pair of knee socks for me

8. To knit Kilt Hose for Mac

9. To review at least 20 books

10. To knit at least 4 patterns from books I own

11. to keep the Irish Knitters updates going.

Knitters Almanac Review



Book Depository Link; Dover Publications Link; Ravelry Link


Types of patterns: Jumpers, cardigans, mittens, socks, hats, shawls

Number of Patterns: Jumper (3); Hat (2); pot-holder (1); Shawl (2); Blanket (1); Baby Cardigan (1); Baby longies(1); mittens (2); tights (1); top (1); christmas ornaments (1); socks (1)

Split of patterns: Patterns cover a wide range of sizing and tend towards the genderless

Size Range: Elizabeth encourages using guage to determine how many stitches to cast on and really only shows a guide rather than concrete patterns

Colour/Black & White: colour photographs black and white illustrations, hand-drawn charts

Schematics: no

Target Audience: I think to get the most out of this book you would need to have at least tackled a few patterns in her Knitting without Tears, a beginner would probably be a little lost with her assumption that you know how to knit, but a lot of patterns are really quite simple, they do need reading a few times to check what needs to be done (buttonholes can be a sticking point here)

How to knit guide: There is an appendix that goes into detail about some techniques but the actual guides to knitting are embedded in the text, the book rewards reading, and her style makes the book quite readable!

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Classical

Comments: This is the Commemorative Edition of a book that hasn't been out of print for a long time. It commemorates her 100th Birthday and the 50th year of the company she founded. Elizabeth Zimmermann is an author who is cited by a lot of authors as someone who made them think about their knitting instead of being a blind follower of knitting (though I do find myself that being a blind follower can be restful, sometimes). The book is laid out in months. The author has a unique style that reads almost like she's talking to you. She talks about her own knitting history and her own life as she talks about the knitting. Her role in the knitting world cannot be underestimated (and she is one of the proponents of the myth of Aran Jumpers, which makes it hard to unhook it from some knitter's psyches!)

The new edition includes a preface by her daughter Meg Swansen; an introduction by Stephanie Pearl McPhee; a frontispiece by Andrew Wyeth; a facsimile of a letter by Barbara Walker and the February Ladies Sweater, an adaptation of the baby sweater from February. It's hardback and the paper quality is quite high. The patterns are in stitches per inch, if you're looking for a more regular guage you should multiply the guage by four.

January: An Aran Jumper, a discussion of Guage, a suggestion to use a hat to check guage when you need (about half the number of stitches for a hat than a sweater), she admits to steeking cardigans.

February: Some Babies things. Where she advocates wool for babies and bright colours, her sneaky way of adding wool in makes me twitch though, there are people who genuinely can't wear wool and it's disingenuous to try to "convert" them. Also if you give a gift, the irritation factor may not be mentioned for politeness sake! This chapter has a double-knit pot-handler; with suggestions how to increase it to make a blanket, a square shawl; a baby sweater on two needles; baby leggings. There is also a suggestion for an adaptation of a baby bonnet.

March talks about buying yarn for a jumper; what to do if you run out of yarn. discusses colour changing, suggests making a sample hat and gives pithy directions for the jumper, which is worked in the round.

April: The Mystery Blanket, a pretty plain knit in the round in modules blanket, where she discusses grafting, and how to create a sampler to practice.

May has mittens for next winter. She believes in making them interchangable and suggests providing three at a time to accomodate losses. She suggests using gloves to experiment with colour, I or Idiot cord is mentioned, as is the thumb trick. There are two patterns, norwegian and mitred patterns.

June: Borders and Hats. She introduces a knitted garter stitch border. The hats are the Maltese Fisherman's Hat; the Ganomy hat and the three-cornered hat.

July has a shawl, with a one-row buttonhole. This is a circular shawl with very regular increases, something she suggests for travel knitting as the pattern is predicable. She talks about unventing and about knitting while travelling. There are a number of suggested laces she has for the shawl.

August has some Christmas Fiddle-Faddle or ornaments, designs a sock-heel and canoes her way through a holiday.

September has Nether Garments, or long-johns. She talks about getting kids into knitting. She talks about how to adjust the pattern for the person they're intended for, knits both footed and unfooted style, she also discusses making them into more trousers than tights, talks about her filming and mistakes, including rowing.

October has an open-collared pullover, which is a short-sleeved top, a polo shirt style design, worked from both the top and the bottom

Novemeber has the Moccasin Socks, where the sole is replacable

December: the Hurry-up last-minute sweater, a jumper knitted in the round with hems. She also talks about adjusting an already-made garment

The book also has an index and a conversion chart between US and metric needle sizes.

Buy/Borrow: It's a good edition of this book, I found her an engaging writer and while you may not like her she is very influential and has jostled a lot of the current generation out of conventional thinking and made them think about their knitting and take charge of it, instead of your knitting being in charge of you. She's regularly cited by people, so knowing a little about her could be useful if you're planning to get into design. Her conversational style doesn't suit everyone, so I'd be inclined to borrow it first and see if it suits you. I would encourage people to read her, even if you're only skimming the actual patterns as she has been so influential to an entire generation of knitters.

Where found: I have my own copy (of both editions! Which I bought out of my own money, direct from Dover Publications) and Dublin City Public Libraries has got a few copies in recently.